Franklin, 16, adds sparkle to US with two more golds
SHANGHAI - Michael Phelps easily won the 100-meter butterfly, then ceded the spotlight to 16-year-old Missy Franklin, swimming’s newest breakout star, who made a splash on her final night at the world championships.
Without Milorad Cavic pushing him, Phelps scowled upon seeing his time of 50.71 seconds last night. Too slow for his liking, it was still good enough to earn him a second individual gold medal and his sixth overall with one day remaining in the meet.
Franklin won two more golds to leave the worlds with five medals overall - three gold, a silver, and a bronze. As he watched her, Phelps recalled his first world meet in 2001 as a 15-year-old who set a world record.
“I kind of remember myself being like that, full of energy all the time,’’ he said. “She’s just happy, just enjoying everything, she’s never tired, she’s always swimming fast. She’s really been able to come on the scene strong. I’ve said this all along, she’s a stud.’’
With a nickname to match - “Missile Missy,’’ bestowed by her father four years ago.
The phenom from Centennial, Colo., energized the entire US team and coaching staff with her bubbly personality, wide smile revealing a mouth full of braces, and impressive maturity.
“She’s genuinely happy and excited to race, more so than any swimmer on this team,’’ US women’s cocaptain Natalie Coughlin said. “It’s unbelievably refreshing to have her energy on the team.’’
Franklin led all the way to win the 200 backstroke, then anchored the US women to victory in the 400 medley relay. She accomplished so much at these worlds that her coach Todd Schmitz had to shave off his goatee as payback.
“I’ve never been this happy in my entire life. It has been such an incredible meet,’’ Franklin said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.’’
Listening to her, Coughlin laughed and said, “See what I mean? So excited to be here.’’
Franklin set two American records, winning the 200 back in 2 minutes, 5.10 seconds - the third-fastest time ever - and the medley relay in 3:52.36, along with Coughlin, Rebecca Soni, and Dana Vollmer.
The teenager anchored the Americans’ victory in the 4x200 freestyle relay Thursday, when she swam faster than Italy’s Federica Pellegrini did in winning the individual 200 free.
Franklin finished nearly a second in front of 200 back silver medalist Belinda Hocking of Australia, while Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands took bronze.
Franklin was asked if she was the female Phelps, a comparison that made Schmitz chafe, but one she handled with aplomb.
“It’s hard to compare yourself to someone who is just that unbelievable at what he does,’’ Franklin said. “So right now I’m just going to stick to swimming my races and just being me and having fun with it.’’
Phelps won the 100 fly in 50.71 seconds after rallying from third at the turn. Konrad Czerniak of Poland took the silver at 51.15 while another American, Tyler McGill, earned bronze.
“It’s definitely more comfortable having this than having a hundredth win,’’ Phelps said, referring to his victory by .01 seconds over Cavic at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Cavic, who is still regaining his form following back surgery, didn’t advance out of the prelims.
Phelps had three golds, two silvers, and a bronze with one more event to go - the 4x100 medley relay today.
“It’s really more about doing the times you want to do,’’ he said. “I hit pretty much all of them except this one.’’
Olympic champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil kept his title in the 50 free to earn his second gold.